I love to add odd stories to my history papers, and Africa definitely has more than its share of them. Especially odd war stories; check out what I wrote about World War I in Africa for some examples. Now here are two stories I forgot to put in Chapter 7, about strange wars that happened in Africa around 1900. You can see the history paper itself right here, but if all you want are the new paragraphs, read on to see what I added:
The Anglo-Zanzibar War
Meanwhile on the east coast, the sultan of Zanzibar died, and his cousin, Khalid bin Barghash, immediately took charge. However, the British preferred another candidate, Hamud bin Muhammed, and an 1886 treaty required any candidate for sultan to get the permission of the British consul before taking the throne. Khalid hadn’t done this, so the British ordered him to leave his palace; instead, Khalid barricaded himself inside with guards loyal to him. Two days later (August 27, 1896), the British showed up with five warships, 150 marines and sailors, and 900 African soldiers, and began to bombard the palace. A royal yacht and two other Zanzibari boats were sunk, and the bombardment quickly took out the palace’s gun battery. Either 38 or 45 minutes later, the shelling stopped as the pro-British Africans approached the palace, and it was all over. It doesn’t matter which clock was accurate; the Anglo-Zanzibar War was the shortest war in history. An estimated 500 Zanzibaris were killed or wounded; the only British casualty was one seriously injured petty officer, who later recovered. Khalid went into exile, and Hamud was installed as the next sultan; however, he needed to find a new headquarters, because the palace and harem were so badly damaged from the bombardment that they had to be torn down.
The War of the Golden Stool
The Ashanti let Prempeh be taken into exile because the alternative was war. They knew that they would probably lose any war with the British, and then the British would take away their most prized possession, the king’s golden stool (see Chapter 6, footnote #29). Even so, in 1900 the governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Frederick Hodgson, came to Kumasi and demanded that the Ashanti fetch the golden stool, because (1) it now belonged to the queen of England, and (2) he had the right to sit on it, now that the Ashanti had no king. After the governor’s speech, the Ashanti dispersed, but instead of getting the stool, they collected weapons, and the queen mother of the tribe, Yaa Asantewaa, organized an army to fight back (this, by the way, was the last war in African history in which a woman led one side). When the British soldiers on the scene decided to go looking for the stool, they were ambushed, and the survivors were driven back to Kumasi. There they were besieged by 12,000 Ashanti warriors for three months, until Britain could send reinforcements to rescue them and break the siege. In the end the Ashanti suffered 2,000 casualties, not counting civilians, and the British annexed their territory and exiled the queen mother as well. Still the Ashanti claimed victory in the War of the Golden Stool. Why? First, they killed 1,007 British; a ratio of one British casualty to every two Ashanti casualties is impressive, considering that the British had four Maxim guns. Second, and even more important, the British never got to sit on their stool. The Ashanti hid the stool so well that nobody saw it again for twenty years. As for King Prempeh, he was allowed to return in 1924.